Monday, July 10, 2017

Summer Internship in Bogotá Puts Theory into Practice

As part of a series of articles chronicling our students’ internships, below are Eli Birgé's reflections on his internship experience in Bogotá, Colombia. Eli, a student in the Master of Arts (MA) program focusing on Latin American Studies, tells us about how he merges theory and practice in the Colombian capital.

My summer internship in Bogotá has been an elegant capstone to two semesters of study in Bologna,
Eli Birgé
Italy. The experience has led me from Latin Europe to Latin America, from the Apennines to the Andes and from development theory into practice.

The Corporacion Andina de Fomento (CAF) is Latin America's home-grown development bank. The infrastructure team where I work is dedicated to improving Colombia's global competitiveness and domestic inclusivity through improved industrial integration and mobility.

Now is a particularly exciting time for Colombian infrastructure. Despite being endowed with immense natural resource wealth (second only to Brazil on the continent), Colombia's industrial hubs and ports are disjointed from each other by three Andean cordilleras, jungles, rivers and lousy roads. CAF's concerted effort to break this socio-economic bottleneck could unlock the country's impressive growth potential. 

My role on the infrastructure team has given me the chance to burnish the skills I acquired at Johns Hopkins SAIS, particularly in project finance, Excel modelling, and Spanish. Most projects are ad hoc, and my supervisor gives me the latitude to tailor them to my professional objectives. 

JHU SAIS Alumni reunion in Bogotá
Although the workdays are long--about eleven hours--Bogotá offers plenty of diversions. Recently I was able to attend a JHU SAIS alumni reunion and on weekends I take my bicycle onto the non-motorized ciclovias, discover a new fruit at the outdoor markets, and enjoy the several salsa clubs. In all, my summer internship following my year at Johns Hopkins SAIS Europe, has been off to a great start.

Eli Birgé
MA Student
SAIS Europe 2017

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